The train ride! Oh, have mercy the train ride! I can only imagine what Jacob must have been feeling...he leaves the institution, gets in a car, arrives at a strange (and not very baby proof) apartment where he plays for just a few hours, then he is whisked back into the car and onto a train. (With a brief stop where his new Mama runs into a grocery store to buy plastic bags containing our dinner...a breaded cutlet and football shaped mashed potatoes that we discovered were stuffed with onions and mushrooms.) I opted for the first class compartment this time around. It had a padded wall behind the bunk and a lot more pillows and blankets to pad the floor. It was cold and slushy and we had to walk a long way from the car to the train, but we finally made it. My facilitator and her husband loaded us on and got us settled. I took Jacob out of his jacket and thought...Here we go! The first leg of our journey together. We were both really hungry so I made us a picnic and we shared the cutlet and mashed potatoes. The cutlet was wonderful, but the mushrooms were not great so we just ate the potatoes. I could tell Jacob was nervous, but there was really nothing he could hurt himself on so I just closed and locked our door and let him explore.
The lady who was the attendant of the car was not very nice, but I only had to see her to hand her my ticket. I had hoped that maybe she would be sweet like the lady Brad and and met on the way into our region so I could ask her to watch Jacob if I needed a bathroom break. No such luck with this lady...I decided to not drink very much water. :)
After dinner we played for just a minute but we were both tired so I turned out the light and tucked Jacob into his bunk. This is when I got my first glimpse into how Jacob puts himself to sleep. I had been warned about kids rocking themselves to sleep, but Jacob’s version looked more like a seizure with loud hissing noises. It was heartbreaking to watch. He would let me lay at the end of his bunk, but didn’t want be right next to him or touching him. I stretched out my leg along the edge of his bunk and every once in awhile he would stop rocking and I would feel this little feathery touch on my foot. My sweet boy making his first brave attempts to accept a mother’s presence and comfort while he sleeps. I sang made up songs telling him that I loved him and that he would never be alone again. Finally he drifted off to sleep.
I am not sure if the deep snow effects the train or not, but it was the bumpiest train I have ever been on. It was difficult to sleep. At one point we were almost bounced out of our bunks. We both slept fitfully. After one particularly hard bump, Jacob woke up and sat up in bed, It was about 2am. He just grabbed me and hugged me and cried his little heart out. I had never heard him cry before. It was heart wrenching. It took him almost an hours to settle down enough to sleep again. Again I stretched my leg out next to him and he would pat my foot this time.
The train arrived at 5:30am and it felt like I had been wrung out and hung to dry. I was tired and hungry and very thirsty. I have never been so happy to see someone as I was to see Nico, our driver. He carried everything but Jacob and we made our way off the train, across the platform and down many flights of stairs to the parking lot. Nico explained what I would need to bring with me in a few hours when Eugene, the other driver, would pick me up and take me to the embassy. I tried really hard to make my brain work, but it was so early. I finally decided that I would just bring everything and hope for the best.
Nico stopped and ran into a small store for me to buy me some yogurt for breakfast. He came out with two yogurts and a loaf of bread...in case I didn’t have any and needed it later. Such a sweet and thoughtful man. I am guessing that he is accustomed to bleary eyed, shell shocked, overwhelmed adoptive mothers and was making certain I would have something to eat later.
Jacob and I trudge up the 5 flights of stairs to our Kiev apartment and got settled in before we had to begin what would be one of the hardest and longest days of my life. The embassy day...